The Cottage Smallholder

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Abel and Cole’s chilled prepared meals: a review

Photo: Abel and Cole chilled meals

Photo: Abel and Cole chilled meals

Despite endeavours to cook from scratch, the market for chilled meals is a growing one. More people are buying these as an alternative to a takeaway or eating out. Sometimes even D and I succumb when we see something tempting.

Living alone and not always feeling tip top, my mum welcomes our hampers. She has a bird-like appetite so everything is served in ramekins that she can defrost and heat up easily. She also loves Duchy Original soup and pies. When Able and Cole offered to send her some chilled ready meals to review she was thrilled.

Apart from being delighted with the delivery man carrying them into her kitchen, she was impressed with the overall standard of the chilled packaging, which came with iced pouches (to be returned).
She rang me the next day.
“Well I’ve tried them all.”
“You can’t have eaten all three.” These are large individual man sized portions. The equivalent of six meals for my mum.
“Well I haven’t eaten all of them. I just couldn’t resist trying all of them.”
“What did you think?”
“I’ll tell you when you come on Saturday. I’ll keep a bit of all three dishes so you can taste them too.”

I sampled the three dishes on the Saturday. The meat balls and cottage pie were excellent – as good as the best home cooked. The chicken and ham pie was a bit disappointing but my mum and I are real meat pie aficionados so this little pie was running the gauntlet of the pickiest pie eaters in the East of England.

Here are mum’s thoughts on the dishes:

Pegoty Hedge organic Cottage pie with Potato Mash.
“A lovely old fashioned cottage pie not titivated up as most modern cottage pies are. 10/10.”

Pegoty Hedge organic Meat Balls in Tomato Sauce.
“Delicious tender meat. Excellent tomato sauce, not too spicy. 10/10.”

Abel and Cole organic Chicken and Ham Pie.
“Plenty of very good filling but too much pastry. Not to my taste cold but much improved heated. I would prefer just shortcrust pastry on the top. 5/10/”

Both the Pegoty Hedge meals could be frozen and were extremely good value at £3.95 each.

So thumbs up to Abel and Cole. They are also offering £50 free shopping until the end of August.

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  1. Fizzyian

    Able and Cole are a very good company, I totally recommend them. Their product is exceptionally good as is their service…..

  2. My comment about your impartiality was meant to be tongue in cheek, sorry if it offended!

    I do understand why people buy ready meals – my elder grandparents used on of the services you describe and stuck with a microwave and a camping stove for 3 weeks whilst we refit our kitchen I am doing the same more frequently than I like, espcially M&S chidlrens meals for my daughter so i know she is fed even if we are surviving on toast now the hm freezer stash is depleated. However I wince at the expense everytime and whilst they taste good, contain no nasties and she wolfs them down I still don’t feel that they offer good value.

    I don’t doubt your judgement that the meals were as good as HM and a vast improvmenet on most ready meals I was just suprised you accepted the hefty price tag so readily.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna

    Suddenly Latvia beckons. A meal for two for under a tenner 🙂 But it does depend on the meal!

    Hello D

    I’m responding although you are just 30 metres away (conference call).

    This Cambridge restaurant is a real gem if you are on a budget.

    No. I haven’t had a free meal for this review.

    Hello Domestic Executive

    Yes I agree with you. I could probably make this. But I’m reviewing the market for people over seventy. My mum has our food delivered every other week but in the interim has to survive on her own. She is ninety in November and can’t really cope with heavy saucepans and stuff. In her prime she cooked great meals.

    Hello Rachel

    I’m so pleased that you left your comment.

    I reviewed an A and C organic veg box and chilled meals because I was curious about the quality of both.

    A lot of my clients are Senior Citizens and have signed up for ready meals. There are quite a few companies out there that deliver frozen meals. They are very willing and carry the meals from van to freezer. The meals are quite expensive and leave a lot to be desired.

    This market will grow over the next twenty years. These are older people that can’t handle large saucepans of boiling water etc. They can be unsteady on their feet. They might have been great cooks in the past but sadly no longer can cook for themselves. We cook for my mum but can’t provide every meal. As I’ve been ill for the last five weeks my mum has received nothing from us. We had promised her a biweekly delivery.

    So now she has to look further afield. At nearly ninety, she couldn’t bring a big shop back on the bus. A round trip to Waitrose in a taxi costs her £16.00. She is not internet savy. But a regular delivery from a great company like Abel and Cole could save her money and provide her with good, regular organic food.

    Yes we grow our own veg and try and produce great budget meals. We are asked to review quite a few things and more often than not turn them down as we don’t like the products.

    The offer of a free veg box is never a temptation to sell our souls. We have a lot of city readers with no access to a garden or allotments. Even if this article just has relevance to them it is well worth posting.

    Hi S.O.L.

    We are O.K. Not quite right yet.

    New post up tomorrow a.m.

  4. hope you are all ok at the cottage! no bloggy makes me sad.

  5. I’m suprised to see someone who prides themselves on slashing their shopping budget declaring £3.95 for a solitary serving of shepards pie ‘extremely good value’ – how many of your own could you make and stash in the freezer for that?

    I do so hope that your impartiality isn’t being swayed by all these freebies form Able and Cole

  6. Domestic Executive

    Even if they were available here, there is no way I’d spend the equivalent of $10 NZ on a ready meal although I know I will have done that when I lived in the UK. You could cook a shepherds pie for 6/8 for the same money. We do that and freeze the extra portions for another time.

    Seems that Pegoty Hedge are onto a winner taste wise though so all credit to them. I’m looking forward to spending an hour or two visiting supermarkets when I am back in the UK so see how different they are now to 3.5 years ago.

  7. Danny Carey

    Blimey, Joanna! Under a tenner for two?

    Our own favourite low cost eatery is the Hotpot at 66 Chesterton Rd, Cambridge. Good medium-level Chinese nosh for about £20 for two, including a couple of beers. A lovely relaxed, oilcloth tablecloth sort of unpretentious eatery and the staff are lovely and friendly. We always leave on an up.

  8. Somehow don’t think they will deliver out to us here in Latvia. Our ready prepared meals have to be prepared by us as there is not a wealth of ready packaged foods apart from pizzas so if I don’t feel like cooking we head down to the local hotel where we can get a meal for under a tenner for the two of us. :o)

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